Dan Sultan is certainly not one to rest on his laurels. After a very busy and successful year, he’s already listing his plans for 2015 less than a month into the new year. He’s already on the road with Paul Kelly for The Merri Soul Sessions. After that, he’ll embark on a gigantic run of solo tour dates across all mainland states and territories. He’s also adamant that he’ll find the time to write and record a new album.
“This is my passion and something that I want to do and something that I have to do. I consider myself very lucky to be doing it so I think it’s important to be out there and important to be active and prolific and to be writing and performing. What else am I going to do? It’s the only thing I’m good at!”
Following his acoustic EP Dirty Ground, released in November, Sultan will make a return to performing his songs in a more stripped-back solo setting, armed with just a guitar and microphone.
“I love the big rock ‘n’ roll band and festivals and being on stage in front of thousands of people — I absolutely adore that — but I also love these stripped back things. You can’t compare it. It’s not fair to compare it. They’re both completely different beasts. I love them both for completely different reasons and I’m looking forward to it.”
Sultan co-wrote tracks on Dirty Ground with Kelly, and shares a songwriting credit on the EP with close friend Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate. He says working with Dempsey was was “daunting” but ultimately rewarding.
“He’s such an amazing songwriter and a really lovely man. He and his wife are friends of mine and we get along well but at the same time he’s someone I really admire and look up to — such a beautiful songwriter.”
He has similarly kind words for Kelly.
“He’s really shown me a lot of support – not just me but musicians all over the country. He always does anything he can if he believes in a musician and believes in an artist then he goes for it and doesn’t muck around… He’s done a lot for the industry I’m very proud to be a part of… I certainly don’t take that for granted.”
Watch: Dan Kelly – Dirty Ground (Live at Way Of The Eagle Studios)
Sultan has the ability — not unlike Kelly or Dempsey or even Springsteen — to share true encounters of life, love and loss. Teaming with his two friends came easily, he says, but it’s evident his passion for songwriting made it so.
“Me and Paul Dempsey got to the studio and we had a song done in an hour and then we went and ate chicken parmigiana. With Paul Kelly, I went to his house for a couple of days, we drank cups of tea and ate some food and came up with four or five songs. I don’t want to sound blasé about it but it was so natural. We were all ready to come up with something.”
He continues: “I really enjoy co-writing… When you get to a studio or you get to someone’s house or they come to your place, at the start of the day the song doesn’t exist and by the end of the day you’ve got the song that you’re a fan of. Musicians are fans of music — that’s why we’re musicians, because we love music. At the end of the day there’s a whole brand-new beautiful creation there that wasn’t there when you woke up. I really enjoy that. I think it’s really special.”
When asked how he feels he’s grown, as a songwriter and performer, since his debut Homemade Biscuits, Sultan says these days he’s more comfortable in his own skin and with his own creativity.
“It was a real security blanket working with someone like Scott [Wilson, former songwriting partner]. I needed to get out and do it on my own and work with other people. Working with him taught me a lot about my own capabilities and my own writing. It’s a scary thing to do this, so if you’ve got the confidence you’ve got that capability, and if you’ve got that type of spirit within you it can only help.”
After the solo tour, Dan Sultan will commence writing for his fourth album to follow-up last year’s Blackbird.
“I’ve got to write another record, record another record and just do it all over again. I’m just gonna do it until I’m sick of it. I’m gonna do it until I don’t want to do it any more and I think that’s a pretty healthy outlook. It’s my passion and as soon as it stops being something that I’m passionate about and something that I’m compelled and really have to do then I won’t do it anymore and that’s OK.”
Dan Sultan is currently touring the country with The Merri Soul Sessions — details here. Details of his upcoming solo tour are below.
Watch: Dan Sultan – Under Your Skin (Live at the 2014 ARIA Awards)
Dan Sultan Australian Tour Dates
w/ The Pierce Brothers
Friday, 13th February 2015 – Melbourne Zoo Twilights
Dan Sultan, with special guest Benny Walker (Doors open 5:30pm)
Melbourne Zoo, Parkville
Tickets: Zoos Victoria
Thursday, 19th February – Friday, 20th February 2015
Aurora Spiegeltent, Garden of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide*
Saturday, 21st February 2015
Rockford Wines, Tanunda*
Saturday, 24th February 2015
Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
Wednesday, 25th February 2015
Playhouse at Darwin Entertainment Centre, Darwin
Friday, 27th February 2015
Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton
Saturday, 28th February 2015
Front Garden at Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
Sunday, 1st March 2015
Nannup Music Festival, Nannup*
Tickets: Nannup Music Festival
Friday, 6th March 2015
West Gippsland Arts Centre, Warragul
Saturday, 7th March 2015
Theatre Royal, Castlemaine VIC
Tuesday, 10th March 2015
Powerhouse Theatre, Brisbane
Wednesday, 11th March 2015
Arts Theatre at Gold Coast Arts Centre, Gold Coast
Saturday, 14th March 2015
Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Katoomba*
Tickets: Blue Mountains Folk Festival
Sunday, 15th March 2015
Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul
Tuesday, 17th March 2015
Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle
Wedneaday, 18th March 2015
Street Theatre, Canberra
Thursday, 19th March 2015
Street Theatre, Canberra
Saturday, 21st March 2015
National Theatre, St Kilda
*Pierce Brothers not performing